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New SRT Viper heading to 24 Hours of Le Mans

Published February 1, 2013

It has been no secret that SRT CEO Ralph Gilles has been hoping to take his new Viper to the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans. Well, it’s now official: The SRT Viper will be racing at Le Mans this year.

It was officially announced today that SRT Motorsports has been invited by the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) to race at the 2013 event.

“Racing is truly a part of the illustrious history of Viper and a proving ground for the SRT brand,” said Gilles. “Historically the Viper GTS-R has enjoyed great success at Le Mans, so we couldn’t be more excited and proud to accept the challenge to return to France and continue composing the next chapter in the history of Viper racing at such an historic venue.”

Gilles, who grew up in Montreal, is more than just the President and CEO of the SRT (which stands for Street and Racing Technology) brand. He is an avid racer who is a regular competitor in the Targa Newfoundland and the Viper truly is his baby.

Adding to the Canadian flavour of the team is the Viper’s lead development driver Kuno Wittmer, who lives in Montreal and has a winning history behind the wheel of the previous generation Viper. I spoke with Wittmer this morning and he told me, “I am so excited – only two other French Canadian drivers have ever competed there.” The others are Jacques Villeneuve, who raced with Peugeot in 2007 and 2008, when he finished on the second step of the podium. Top Canadian formula car racer Claude Bourbonnais drove for the Courage team in 1991, an effort which ended in retirement.

SRT Motorsports will field a two car team at the race. Wittmer will be joined by accomplished racers Tommy Kendall, Dominik Farnbacher and Jonathan Bomarito. Other drivers will be named at a later date.

Collectively, Wittmer and Gilles are considered the nicest guys in racing and auto manufacturing, so it is with pride that we can see them represent Canada at the French race this June.

Just to have a bit of fun last fall, Wittmer strapped his lovely wife Sabrina into the passenger seat of a previous generation Viper race car to give her a taste of what he does for a living. This is a good bit of fun and the Viper looks awesome in its vintage-inspired Plum Crazy paint!

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